The driving records of California’s self-driving cars have recently been made public, and they are not impressive. The cars have been on public roads in California since September 2014 – the first month that the state issued permits for companies to test the cars on public roads. Currently, there are 48 self-driving cars operating in California. California is only one of four states that allow self-driving cars on public streets and highways.
Four of the 48 self-driving cars have gotten into accidents since September according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Three of the vehicles belonged to Google and one belonged to Delphi Automotive.
Although these statistics may sound ominous, it is unclear who was at fault for these accidents as collision reports are confidential under California law. Both Google and Delphi reported that the accidents were minor, and that their cars were not at fault. Delphi says that the accident involving its car was the result of being broadsided by another car. Delphi points out that last year it took a self-driving car cross-country from San Francisco to New York without an incident.
Google says that the company replays its software systems to decide who is at fault for accidents in order to help maximize safety. Google also released information, which was private until now, about the statistics of its self-driving program, which has been ongoing for six years. In six years of its self-driving car program which covered 1.7 million miles, there have been 11 accidents, including seven rear-end crashes, some side-swiping incidents, and a collision with a car that rolled through a stop sign. Google says that not one of those accidents was caused by the self-driving car.
Companies all over Silicon Valley are working on self-driving cars. Their goal is to let technology take over driving in order to improve safety and reduce injuries. About 33,000 Americans die on the roads each year. Most of those deaths are because of a poor choice made by one of the drivers involved in the accident. Proponents of self-driving cars point out that many of those errors can be eliminated through technological advancements.
It’s unclear when or if self-driving cars will be made available to the public at large. It’s also unclear if the technology will ever be truly considered safe enough to unleash large numbers of self-driving cars on the roads. However, some experts say that we should not be alarmed by the number of accidents at this stage. It’s common during the testing and development stage of new technology for there to be problems, which can be fixed as part of the process.
It’s also unclear who is legally responsible in an accident involving self-driving cars. Currently, if someone is hurt in an automobile accident, the driver who is determined to be at fault for the accident is responsible for the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses. If a self-driving car on the roads now gets involved in an accident with another vehicle and is determined to be at fault, the company testing the self-driving car will most likely be determined to be responsible. But if two self-driving cars get in an accident, the legal ramifications are unclear.
If you have been involved in an automobile accident in the San Francisco area, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco personal injury attorney, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. She works with clients throughout the Bay area, including Hayward, Oakland, Tracy, Fairfield, San Jose, and Berkeley on their personal injury cases, and can provide you with a free consultation on your case. Call today to schedule your appointment.